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We gather data to ensure a thorough understanding of your situation. It will show your current asset allocation, your net worth, the direction and rate of its change, your cash flow, income and estate tax liability as well as other items.
Step two is to develop your personal financial objectives and identify problems that are present in your current planning. Frequently, our clients say "it's to make sure that I have a source of income that I cannot outlive, and secondarily, to leave a legacy for my family, and, perhaps the community. But often it is more complex and involves thinking about things that you had never considered, prompted by questions that perhaps you had never been asked. This is basically a process of reconciling the likely outcome based upon your current arrangements with your desired outcome as described in your objectives. It is in this step that the full benefit of the planning process becomes apparent. Issues that you had never thought of, problems that you had never realized existed will be identified - simply because your financial picture was never so completely developed & your objectives never so clearly and completely stated.
Step three entails the development of recommendations and specific strategies for implementation. Equipped with pros and cons of each and an economic model to determine their impact, you will be able to determine what is appropriate for you. Many strategies you will elect to implement, some now and some in the future whereas others you will reject; the decision will be yours. The agreed upon strategies will be converted to writing in a comprehensive report.
This step involves implementation and ongoing review of the process. This is where your other advisors will be most instrumental. You will have a game plan, a specific course of action to take to your attorney. Armed with this information, he or she will be in a position to help you draft or amend the required documents. Your CPA will be instrumental in the documentation of many of the strategies involved. Again, there are strategies that had you not first determined your basis (your objectives), and a method of evaluation (the financial model), you would not have been equipped to pursue them. Finally, an annual review of your plan will be done to reflect any changes in the economy and the tax law as well as in your personal situation and objectives. As a result of this process, you can be assured that your plan continues to be up to date.